Phantasm (1979) (Remastered) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury
Rated: R/Region AB/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Well GO USA
Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink the to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie, the ice cream man, to stop the Tall man…
Boooooy am I happy to finally see this movie hit Blu-ray! This is a favorite of mine and I’ve been yapping about getting this thing in HD ever since basically everything under the son besides it was hitting Blu-ray. I don’t think I expected Well Go USA to be the company to give us that but here we are and here it is with a 4K scan! They will be releasing a box set next year but until then I think this release will be good enough to hold us over. As I’ve stated with very few films before, only a small group of movies are what I’d really consider being scary. And this usually goes back to when I was a kid and I’d come across a movie or two that literally freaked me out. The Phantasm series was something that freaked me out. The series started with the original Phantasm in 1979. Now obviously I wasn’t even born yet, so I never saw it til I rented it many years later, but it is one of those movies I’d call actually horrifying. And as weird, as the first movie is, I think it also packs what it needs to freak someone out. It’s almost like Coscarelli wanted to make a weird Italian horror film here in American. Not everything you see in this movie will always make sense, but that seems to almost be the point. This is a film that came out in 1979, so we still have that 70’s vibe going. This means that the film does seem a lot like an acid trip on screen at times. Terrible things happen only for the film to renege on it moments later by having someone wake up. It confuses the viewer, but it’s just so unique and different that you want to see it to its end, regardless of how odd and confusing things might get. It doesn’t pack the most gore of a Phantasm film, but the iconic spear does make a small a few appearances and one scene it is in is a memorable and bloody one.
The movie packs an ending that seems to be a love it or hate it type deal. I grew up during a time when the sequels were out already, so I can imagine how people felt originally when it was still long ways off before they got a sequel, leaving them with just what the film gives them at the end. The Tall Man isn’t Freddy or Jason, but I like to think that Angus Scrimm shows us here in the first film why you could probably say his name with those in the same conversation and not be out of place. Oddly enough, it’s in the movie’s last few scenes that The Tall Man seems to finally get on the path he is still known for today. The closing moments also are foreshadowing of our dear Reggie being more than just some hippie-ish ice cream man like he is here. The movie doesn’t always make sense, it isn’t always well acted, but perhaps it still holds up extremely well when compared to the others to come on pure eeriness alone. I know this movie may be a bit confusing in some areas to some people, but I still really dig Phantasm. And I’m very happy to be seeing this finally in 1080p and with a few extras on the disc. I like to think they may be holding back a few for the box set. Outside the light extras here, we at least get a flawless looking film. I own every version of this film you can find on disc out there and believe me when I say this one is the best looking easily.
– NEW 4K Restoration
– Audio Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli and cast members Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm, & Bill Thornbury
– Graveyard Cars
– Interviews from 1979 with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm
– Deleted Scenes
Quality of Transfer: 100%